Whose Fault is it When No One is Reading Your Writing on Medium?
The brutal truth about publishing on a platform that pays us when people read
When I joined Medium in October of 2018, I knew it would only take me a few months to be earning thousands, like the top writers on the platform. I already had what I was going to spend all that money on picked out and saved on my Amazon app. I figured a writer as good as I was would build an audience without trying very hard.
I was wrong about everything.
I was wrong about how great of a writer I was, and had to learn it the hard way. Yes, I’d written my entire life. Yes, I had more blogs than I could count, and yes, I was a freelance ghostwriter for quite a few years.
But, Medium has a way of showing us exactly how big of an ego we have when we don’t get thousands of views the first week. When no one was reading, and no one was following me, and I wasn’t getting curated, and publications didn’t want my work, I realized everything I thought about my writing was wrong.
I wasn’t a horrible writer, but I wasn’t a good one either.
So I spent six months spinning my wheels and cursing Medium for blacklisting my work until I took a hard look in the mirror.
I know there are a lot of you thinking there must be a Medium conspiracy because no one is reading, but in the spirit of tough love, I have to tell you that your writing might be the problem.
Sorry to burst that bubble. I really am a nice guy and this kills me to tell you.
Medium is a Unique Ecosystem
Now that a few of the people with bigger egos have clicked away, writing me a nasty comment for even suggesting they may have an issue with their writing, we can get down to business.
Don’t kill the bearer of bad news, but I am only telling you what I wish someone would have told me all those months ago. Jessica Wildfire tried to tell me, but she did it kindly, explaining that I couldn’t always make my writing about myself, and I needed to add something to the person reading — a takeaway.
Maybe I needed her to be tougher on me.
It took me a while, but even though my big ego got in the way, I knew something was wrong because when I read the work of financially successful people, I didn’t measure up at all.
I could have quit, and badmouthed Medium, and went back to my little blog, but I swallowed my pride, and analyzed what I was doing, and:
- I read and analyzed the work of the greats both on and off Medium
- I devoured writing guides
- I started writing every day. This was key. Practice, practice, practice!
- I published whether I felt the piece was good or not, so I could get feedback from other writers
And don’t think I ever quit doing this. As much as I improved, I know I still have a long way to go. When I read the work of the Medium greats, I know I still need practice, and it would silly of me to ever think I have arrived.
Constant improvement is the name of the game, and I measure it daily.
“But, what should I do if no one is reading?”
Now, I didn’t just decide one day that I was an awful writer. The first thing I did was see if there could be other factors involved. I learned about formatting specific to Medium and made sure I was following all the curation guidelines.
Also, I learned on Medium, unless you have tens of thousands of followers, if you aren’t getting curated, few people are going to see your work. So even if your essay is the best thing since sliced bread, if it’s not curated, Medium will not continue to promote it.
I am not saying to be a successful writer, you need to be curated, but if you want to be financially successful on Medium, you have to be curated, and curated often.
If you are following the guidelines Medium puts out, then you should start taking a long look at your writing.
Now I could sit here and list out all the writing advice I have, but my conscience won’t allow me to do that. I am not an expert, and like Felicia Sullivan says, “Your Writing Advice Makes Me Want to Gouge My Eyes Out!” Read that article if you want to learn how to write, or any of the hundred other essays she puts out. Or, better yet, follow her publication, Master Writing Mechanics.
None of them will toot their own horns, but I will, because when I read their work, it makes me want to be better. It shows me that if I keep working hard, I can be a writer other people look up to.
Stay away from all the opinions about what makes good writing; you’ll know it when you see it.
My intention with this article was not to make you throw in the towel and quit writing forever. I want to inspire you to be a better writer and a better version of yourself. Don’t let ego get in the way of your improvement, and don’t let Medium conspiracy theories confuse you about where the real problem lies if no one is reading your work.
We all need to be better writers.
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